24 Jun 2002

Australian human rights activist wants commission of inquiry into Nauru detention centres

4:42 pm on 24 June 2002

An Australian activist is calling for a commission of inquiry into how Australia treats asylum seekers and refugees detained on Nauru.

Kate Durham , who claims to have secretly monitored them on Nauru, says many of the detainees are mentally and physically ill.

She says the asylum seekers are in filthy living conditions because of constant power and water shortages.

Ms Durham says some claim to have been beaten by members of the Australian defence force who transported them to Nauru.

Ms Durham says she's lobbying for a commission of inquiry into her government's policy and the allegations against the Australian Defence Force.

"There is no possibility of sanitation there because there's no water apart from the water they ship in from the Solomon Islands with which to wash anything so they have endemic stomach disorders. The detainees were hinting at problems they've had with the Australian defence forces. Those problems range from straight brutality to things such as underfeeding people. Small tablespoons of food were given to the people and to get them on the island they would give children and babies chilli in that food."

Kate Durham